Thursday, May 09, 2013

Sacramento Virtual Schools

Sacramento Virtual Schools
By Seth Sandronsky.

Miriam Lyons has 25 years of teaching experience and now works in a hybrid online and brick-and-mortar-classroom program, part of the Elk Grove Unified School District Virtual Academy.

When Kelly Krug’s son Ben struggled academically, the Fair Oaks mom looked for options that provided computerized instruction. Called “virtual schools,” these new classrooms allow students to learn course work entirely via online methods. Krug enrolled Ben, and he thrived—but a new study on virtual schools says that his success story is an exception to the rule.
An 80-page national report released last week on full-time virtual schools found problems with student performance and also a lack of oversight of public dollars spent on this brave new cyber world.
Some private virtual-school companies operating here in Sacramento have grown enrollment by more than 20 percent annually over the past several years. This means that tens of millions of taxpayer dollars go toward these new online classrooms, which has some critics worried.
“[There’s] lagging performance [and] lots of taxpayer money at stake, and very little solid evidence to justify the rapid expansion of virtual schools,” said University of Colorado at Boulder professor Alex Molnar, who edited the new National Education Policy Center study.
His report shows that virtual schools trail traditional brick-and-mortars in performance and graduation rates. “In the 2010-2011 school year, for instance, 52 percent of brick-and-mortar district and charter schools met AYP [Adequate Yearly Progress, the federal government’s measurement for student development based on standardized tests], contrasted with 23.6 percent of virtual schools.”
Read the entire report at Sacramento News and Review.

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